One of the products that PolicyLink has created as part of their All-in-Nation effort is an examination of the inadequacies of current economic models which pursue economic growth basically for its own sake, assuming, somehow, contrary to all observed fact, that increases in Gross Domestic Product will translate neatly into improvements in the well-being of individuals and communities, equitably shared.
They outline, instead, an economic growth model focused on fostering greater equity, successfully arguing that this approach is not only likely to bring real improvements to people’s lives but, also, stronger long-term prosperity across the economy, too.
I believe it is imperative that we garner momentum for this shift, if we are to reverse the tide of increasing inequality and restore the ladders of opportunity and mobility that are supposed to work, especially for young people.
And, so, I think it’s worth considering where there are roles for social work and for social workers, in articulating these priorities and, indeed, staffing a more inclusive economic growth strategy.
Here’s what I mean:
- If rebuilding our public infrastructure is an essential part of literally constructing the foundation for economic growth, what should social workers be doing to push for these investments, particularly at the local and county level, where there’s often a bit of a power vacuum, and some engaged and informed leadership could shift the power dynamic and create some real change?
- If creating new, good jobs is the starting point for a more democratic economy, what do social workers need to learn and understand about how business works, what it takes to support people in entrepreneurship, and how to foster the skills to help people survive in the jobs of tomorrow?
- If galvanizing support for these investments will, indeed, take a movement, where are social workers actively leading movement building, fostering critical consciousness among clients and coworkers, implementing proven methods of community engagement, and looking to build alliances beyond the silos of their particular practices?
This isn’t a case where just doing more of what we’ve been doing, or making technical improvements to our programs, will get us anywhere close to where we need to be.
We need new metrics, new aims, and new strategies.
We need a new definition of economic ‘success’, and we need new people at the table.
And, I believe, social workers must be part of those solutions.